Your HVAC unit, which provides heating, ventilation, and air conditioning to your home, ensures your comfort by keeping you warm during winter and cool during summer. It also plays a significant role in removing harmful allergens and dust by circulating fresh air. Since your HVAC is an essential component of your home, it should function at its best. If it is no longer operating as efficiently as before, it might be suitable for a replacement.
Your HVAC installation can cost anywhere between $5,000 and $12,000, depending on various factors. To help you understand the process better, this guide provides all the essential information in an easy-to-understand format.
Common Air Conditioning Costs & Accessories
When people envision getting a new cooling system, they typically focus on the AC unit exclusively. However, the process of replacing your current system entails more than simply substituting the central air conditioning unit.
Now, let’s discuss some additional factors that impact the overall cost of replacing an AC unit.
To install an air conditioner, the following items are typically necessary:
- Physical parts, including; indoor evaporator coil, outdoor pad, outside electric disconnect, an electric conduit from the disconnect to the air conditioner, new copper line set from the indoor coil to the air conditioner, and 15 feet of PVC pipe for use as a drain line
- Local permits
- Electrical costs involving breakers and thermostats
- Ductwork modification, if necessary
- Condensate drainage
Factors That Influence HVAC System Cost
The cost is mostly determined by the type of HVAC unit, although other factors can contribute to the overall amount.
The price of an HVAC unit is influenced by its brand, just like other home appliances. Well-known brands like Trane and American Standard tend to charge a higher price, but they often offer better quality and performance, particularly in larger spaces. Additionally, a brand that is highly energy-efficient will come with a higher price tag. To ensure compatibility with other components of your HVAC system, it is advisable to consult with an HVAC professional when deciding which brand to buy.
The type of HVAC system you should install is also determined by the location of your home. For instance, if your home is in the southern United States, you will need a significant air conditioning unit that can effectively cool the house during hot and humid summers. On the other hand, if your home is in the northern United States, you will require a heating system with a higher capacity to accommodate extremely cold winters.
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has reported that homeowners can save 30% to 50% on their monthly energy bills with current AC units, compared to units from 30 to 40 years ago. To achieve this energy efficiency, it is recommended to choose air conditioners with high Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) ratings and heaters with higher Heating Seasonal Performance Ratio (HSPF) ratings. These ratings reflect the energy efficiency of the units, meaning that higher efficiency ratings will result in more long-term savings. However, it is important to note that units with higher efficiency ratings typically have a higher initial cost.
When receiving an estimate from an HVAC technician, it is possible that some installation costs may be omitted, therefore it is advisable to consider them as a precautionary measure. Here are a few inquiries to make to your HVAC specialist regarding these expenses.
- Permit fees: Your local city or county building department may require a permit. If so, the unit will also require an inspection by a building department representative. This process comes with an additional fee.
- Additional contractor work: HVAC installation sometimes requires additional work, such as plumbing and electrical, to complete the job correctly. A contractor may also have to modify your home’s framing or surfacing to bring the unit up to code. All of this additional work will increase your cost.
Home Size, Age, and Layout
The total cost of your HVAC system is greatly influenced by the age, layout, and size of your home. A 2,000-square-foot home would need a bigger AC and furnace compared to a 900-square-foot home.
If your home has windows that are properly sealed and energy-efficient, you will require a lower AC capacity to maintain comfortable temperatures. Additionally, the layout of your home affects the size of the AC or furnace needed due to the insulation present in the foundation, roof, attic, basements, flooring, and other areas. A home with inadequate insulation necessitates a more efficient HVAC system compared to a well-insulated home.
If you reside in an older residence, it may incur additional expenses to test and remove possible asbestos or lead paint.
On average, the cost of labor for HVAC installation ranges from $500 to $3,000. The duration of the installation process varies between six to ten hours, depending on the size and complexity of the job. Replacing an older HVAC system results in a lengthier timeframe and higher expenses. If the installation involves incorporating new ductwork, the project might require an additional one to three days.
The cost of the unit is also affected by its size. The technician who specializes in HVAC will use British Thermal Units (BTUs) to determine the necessary size of your new furnace or air conditioning unit. BTU is a measurement that indicates how much energy is needed to increase the temperature of one pound of water by one degree. To calculate this, the technician will assess the total square footage of your home.
Twelve thousand BTUs equals 1 ton. For example, a 2.5-ton air conditioner equals 30,000 BTUs. The average AC unit can cool roughly 400 square feet of house per 1 ton of AC cooling capacity. This would produce 12,000 BTUs per 400 square feet. Below is a breakdown of central AC units’ average cost based on BTU.
New HVAC System Cost
The cost of HVAC replacement can be as low as $3,000, with a range of $5,000 to $12,000, which includes installation costs. On average, homeowners typically pay around $7,000.
When installing a new central air conditioning (AC) unit or furnace, it is often necessary to replace the ductwork as well. The cost of this replacement is approximately $2,100 for a typical, single-story home measuring 2,000 square feet.
The cost of a new HVAC system is mainly determined by the type of equipment. In order to determine which HVAC system to order, homeowners should inspect their existing heating and cooling units.
Depending on your local climate and home specifications, there are various heating and cooling system combinations available to choose from. It is advisable to consult with an HVAC technician to identify the cooling and heating system combination that suits your needs and budget the most.
Included in this list are the average costs, including labor, of the most popular HVAC unit types.
- Electric furnace: $2,500–$3,500
- Gas furnace: $3,000–$4,000
- Ductless split AC: $3,000–$5,000
- Oil furnace: $5,000–$8,000
- Central AC: $5,000–$10,000
- Heat pump: $5,500–$8,000
- Geothermal heat pump: $15,000–$40,000
Cost and Choice: What’s Right For You?
To determine the precise cost of replacing an air conditioner, it is necessary to arrange for an in-home assessment from a skilled professional. However, having knowledge about the factors that influence the cost of AC replacement or installing a new system enables you to ask well-informed questions and make a more informed decision in the future.